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Eovaldi to be activated for Tuesday start vs. A's

Righty set for season debut; Gomez, Kiermaier making progress with injuries
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathan Eovaldi will be activated from the disabled list to start for the Rays on Tuesday night in Oakland. The 28-year-old right-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2016 with the Yankees after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

"He's going to pitch for us on Tuesday," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think given his workload and how many pitches he threw in Durham, it's time to get him back in the big leagues. He's probably got another start to continue that progression to get him as built up as possible.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathan Eovaldi will be activated from the disabled list to start for the Rays on Tuesday night in Oakland. The 28-year-old right-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2016 with the Yankees after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

"He's going to pitch for us on Tuesday," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think given his workload and how many pitches he threw in Durham, it's time to get him back in the big leagues. He's probably got another start to continue that progression to get him as built up as possible.

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"We're excited to have him back. This has been a long time coming for Nate. I know he's champing at the bit. Eager to get out there and help us win some games. I'm kind of intrigued to see him. We saw the reports from his rehab outings, 96-100 [mph], I think you'll take that for four innings or five innings, whatever he's able to provide that first start."

Leaving Spring Training, Eovaldi had been slated to start the Rays' second game of the season, but instead he began the season on the DL after having arthroscopic surgery to deal with loose bodies in his right elbow.

Eovaldi made his last rehab start for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday night and allowed eight earned runs in four innings.

"I physically feel great," Eovaldi said. "The results weren't what I wanted when I was down there, but physically I feel good. Fastball, slider, the split and the curveball, they all feel good."

Eovaldi last appeared in a Major League game on Aug. 10, 2016, at Boston. The Rays signed him as a free agent on Feb. 14, 2017, due in part to the organization's reputation in handling pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery. At the time, he was coming back from his second such surgery. Eovaldi achieved his goal of being physically ready to return by the end of the 2017 season, prompting the Rays to exercise his 2018 option.

If Eovaldi successfully makes his start Tuesday night, he'll become the fourth player to pitch for the Rays after two Tommy John surgeries, joining Al Reyes, Lance Carter, and Jonny Venters.

Eovaldi likened the process he's gone through this year to "having Spring Training twice.

"I definitely feel like I'm ready to go," Eovaldi said. "I think it will be five innings or 90 pitches. I'm built up to 90. Ready to go."

Eovaldi acknowledged that his journey has been a frustrating one.

"Just as close as I was in Spring Training, ready to go for the season, and have it end the way it did -- to rebuild all the way back up, it's definitely frustrating," Eovaldi said. "But it is what it is. Accept it, and I'm ready to go now."

Injury updates:
Carlos Gomez (right groin strain) homered twice in a simulated game on Friday.

"It was supposed to be an extended game, but I think the Orioles, rain, or somebody didn't show up," Cash said. "It ended up being a simulated game. He felt good."

Cash said Gomez will be checked out to determine whether he gets activated on Saturday or Sunday.

Kevin Kiermaier (torn ligament in right thumb) will see the doctor next Friday to check on the progress of his energy. The Gold and Platinum Glove center fielder said no timeline has been established yet, but added: "It feels good, though."

Kiermaier is optimistic he will return to the Rays before the All-Star break.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Nathan Eovaldi, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Kiermaier